SINGAPORE - In a race that was not her pet event and in less-than-ideal wet conditions, Goh Chui Ling garnered something more valuable than a medal for an athlete - confidence.
By finishing fourth in Saturday's (Jan 23) mixed open 5,000m race in 17min 55.47sec - behind male runners Chai Jia Cheng (16:45.46), Shaun Goh (16:52.97) and Raymond Sng (17:54.63) - at the Singapore Athletics (SA) Performance Trial 1, Goh proved to herself she was a step closer to qualifying for this year's SEA Games.
This was her first attempt at the 5,000m event - her pet events are the 800m and 1,500m - and her time was narrowly outside the qualifying mark for the biennial Games in Vietnam. That benchmark is the bronze medal time at the last Games, which was Filipina Joida Gagnao's 17:52.16 effort.
For Goh, 29, there were plenty of positives from her performance at the Home of Athletics in Kallang.
She said: "I feel very excited to be competing again. I feel like I am in good shape and to come close to hitting the qualifying time was encouraging."
She has competed at four previous SEA Games - she came closest to clinching a medal at the 2015 edition on home soil but she and teammates Shanti Pereira, Dipna Lim-Prasad and T. Piriyah ended fourth in the women's 4x400m relay despite breaking a 41-year-old national record - and is hoping to break her duck at the Nov 21-Dec 2 competition in Hanoi.
Goh did not enter in the weekend's 800m or 1,500m events as she was still in her "pre-competition phase" but felt a run-out at the longer distance would be helpful to test her stamina and endurance.
She had clocked 2:16.52 and 4:39.10 respectively in these events at the last SA performance trial in December.
While her coach is currently based overseas, this was not a big hurdle, said Goh.
"I have many seniors and training mates who help me through my workouts , as well as to train and compete with." she said.
Several events, including the women's pole vault, were cancelled due to Saturday's heavy rains. The two-day meet concludes on Sunday.